The Face of Holiness; Last Part
A provocative question was asked by Pastor Gerard Cruse from The Consuming Fire Church. After listening to all 19 messages of his series on Holiness, I felt led to visit this friend, who at the same time has become like a father to me. He asked: Was it God’s will for Adam to fall in sin? Pastor Cruse then answered “…a thousand times yes,” as the church stood silent with a sense of confusion. It was indeed an intriguing question accompanied by a very, somewhat, controversial answer. Pastor Cruse added that it was in God’s will for Adam to choose and even as falling in sin was not in his perfect will, He did allow it as he gave and continues to give men a choice.
As I sat there meditating on this part of this powerful message, as Pastor Cruse connected holiness to the will of God, I suddenly had a revelation: It is also God’s will for us to die to self. His Word tells us in Mathew 16:24-25,
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
What stands in the way of holiness is precisely, self. So God allows us, as He gave us a free will, to make our decisions, to do things our way, to move away, to do our thing, etc; all with the objective of bringing us to Him. How? Very simple, when we look back at the mess we have created in our lives: our bad decisions, our disobedience, our rebelliousness, our sin, etc; and we experience the end-results of a life focused on self and on the desires of the flesh, we will have no choice but to kneel before God with our arms lifted on high as we declare: “God, I surrender!.” Romans 8:28-31 explained this phenomenon to us this way:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
The emphasis that I want to point out is that God predestinated us to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Our goal is to be more and more like Jesus and less and less like us. That predestination is what causes everything to work together for good. As long as we are still full of self while our personal preference is to do life our way, there is no space for holiness. As long as we are openly willing to sin and refuse to give certain areas of our lives to God, we stand in great need of brokenness. We will never surrender our will to God as long as our will is in the way. Our will stands in the way because deep inside we feel like we can do it ourselves; that we need no help. It is like the man lost in a strange neighborhood, but refusing to ask for directions until he either gets tired of running in circles or his wife threatens to kill him. The end of self is the beginning of God in us and through us. Like the dog’s owner with the electric fence; the electric shot is not designed to hurt the dog; it just gives enough force for that dog to never get close to that fence again. The owner’s will is for the dog to touch the fence, because once that happens; he knows that the dog will never go near that fence again.
Beloved, I am glad today for all the mess in my life. I would have preferred that I would have learned my lessons a little earlier, but, as Pastor Cruse and I concluded, we are hardheaded, but today; after seeing the end-results of my mess, after I saw myself lost in the streets of disobedient and the highways of my own pride, I am taking my hands off the wheel of my life. I am taking the passenger seat and allow God to do it His way. I don’t know when I will get to the place I need to get to; I don’t care if God takes a short cut or if He takes the long way; if the road is paved, rocky or muggy. I am not questioning my Father. I say, “Father forgive me and take over, I made a mess that only You can fix.” I can see the Father just standing by with a sweet smile saying, “About time!” I have a long way to go, but I am on my way! I am not sad, I am not condemned; I belong to God and I look to my future with great excitement. When the cry of our hearts is “Please Father, take over.” when our ways, desires and will are no longer attractive to us; it is then that holiness becomes an achievable dream; not because of us, but because we give permission for the Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives. It is then that we reach out to our divine nature and shun the volume of the voices of our flesh; it is then that we place Jesus as the Captain of our souls in the midst of the many voices of confusion and worldly logic. No matter what, Jesus rules!
The face of holiness is manifested in our way of life. The face of holiness makes us the light and salt of the world. The face of holiness is not bound; it is not boring; deprived of any fun in life. The face of holiness is fullness of joy; is purpose, is wisdom and is the greatest manifestation of love for our Father and for our fellow men. Please Father… take over!